A Nurse with a Gun

Monday, January 18, 2010

On 22 Sustitutions

Todd G has complied several salient thoughts on training with a 22 pistol as a substitute for your carry gun. With the present economic crunch and ammunition costs, a 22 pistol may seem like an attractive alternative.

I still advocate teaching new shooters marksmanship with a 22 pistol. I also advocate training with what you carry. Click to enlargeWhen I still traveled into "Indian Territory" on a daily basis to see patients, I would pop into an indoor range each day to run one magazine (or cylinder) through my carry gun. That amounted to 60-70 rounds a week, sometimes less if I carried a revolver that week. Round counts do not build proficiency. Familiarity builds proficiency.

I do not disagree with Todd, I still shot some weekend volume at the range as well. Failure drills are important, as is shooting with either hand. Being able to shoot accurately on the move with an adrenaline dump is the skillset to strive for though. This comes from being as familiar with the gun as we are with our automobile. Each day we get in a car and perform complex tasks based on time and space, often within mere feet of injury or death. We do it easily, without thinking. How? We do it every day, a little at a time, not by driving 500 miles once a month.

I sometimes wish I still had the time each day to shoot a magazine. With my present job, unfortunately, I do not. My risk is lessened, and my time is more precious now. I do, however, make certain that I stay intimately familiar with the gun I rely on, and I still benefit from the time I shot them that frequently. But give Todd's article a read. It's good food for thought.



Anonymous Phil K said...

Elmer Keith emphasized daily familiarity as being critical to side arm competence.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

So true. 'Often' is far more important than 'lots'.

Thanks for keeping this blog up at whatever level is comfortable. Count me as one of the readers that appreciates the variety of things you write about. Even all gun posts would be a little less cool.


7:50 AM  
Anonymous WW Paul said...

Good post.

I've found that almost everything I've learned with a .22 has transfered to my other firearms.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Blackwing1 said...

How would you address cleaning if you could shoot every day? My carry gun is a Springfield MicroCompact .45 in stainless, and I shoot about every two weeks. I clean it every time after shooting, since I usually put 50 or 100 rounds through it. But I'm always reluctant to carry a dirty pistol. Is that a silly concern?

The practice pistol is a Ruger 22/45, and we usually put a couple of hundred rounds through it...and I only clean it about every second range trip, and it still seems fine. Maybe that should be a lesson to me that dirty isn't necessarily bad.

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Wally said...

Good post - familiarity is key to competence.

I'm curious as to if you have ever had a Mk2 to Clark ? They still do accurizing, correct? Just got my 3rd Mk2 and now I can spare to have one out of the rotation for a while. Interested to know you reperiences , if any.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Kelly said...

We do it every day, a little at a time


I think this goes for everything in life.

Well put.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous NPB said...

I've become a big fan of shooting . 22 lr through "conversions" of traditionally centerfire guns. The cost and availability of ammunition, ecspecially to the non-reloader can be daunting.

When I set out to build an AR-15 a few years back, I had orginally intended for it to be chambered for 5.56mm. Once I was ready to order the bolt and barrel, I realized that the increasing cost of ammunition was going to limit the amount of shooting that I would be able to participate in. I decided to make it a .22, and couldn't be happier with the decision. One of my friends refers to it as the "giggle gun".

I recently had Clark Custom Guns build me a dedicated .22 1911 out of a Marvel conversion upper and a STI frame. Having these two guns has made me such a rimfire junkie that I recently picked up another dedicated .22 1911, this time built out of an Essex frame and Kart conversion.

I really appreciate having full size weights, sizes, and ergonomics combined with the quiet, low recoil, inexpensive .22 lr gives me a tremendously enjoyable experience.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

I would carry a boresnake and a T-shirt rag srayed with a bit of Breakfree. Finish the mag, run the snake through the gun from the magwell down the barrel. This cleans the feedramp. The rag will clean the breech and the muzzle. Reload, holster and be off. On a revolver i would run the snake though each chamer and the barrel, then wipe the recoil plate and the muzzle.

I'm not that obsessive about gun cleaning. With corrosive ammunition, it was a necessity, but with modern guns and ammo, if the firearm is unreliable when dirty from 100 to 200 rounds, then I figure I don't want it as a carry weapon. Carry guns see more dirt from day to day carry than they do with the usual firing people do.

My 2 pesos.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Clark does do Ruger MKII pistols. I don't own one, but I have shot one. Whether it was more accurate than my Government Model MKII is debatable.

I seriously would consider one of the lightweight aluminum recievers instead. Not that Clark doesn't do stupedous work, I just didn't see the real benefit with this gun.

5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't read the other article but I am in agreement with you. You need to be as comfortable with the carry as you can be. It and you are what maybe the negator in the IF YOUR LIFE DEPENDED ON IT actuality.
However, having said that, due to the cost of ammo, what is it I put more of downrange when at the range -- why .22 of course. I may or may not put through a magazine of the carry gun.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Tam said...


It's not necessarily an "either/or" thing.

200+ rounds a week through the 22/45 is a complement to, not a replacement for, 50ish rounds through the actual 1911.

6:33 PM  
Blogger BuzzKilr's said...

Just wanted to chime in that you should keep this blog going and stop paying ANY attention to Trolls. Your thoughts are interesting and much needed in the normal everyday cesspool of left slanted "news".

7:40 PM  

Good topic. As it happens, I just got my ebay copy of Chic Gaylord's Handgunner's Guide today, and was reading his chapter on this issue. He advocated it.

I agree with you, Xavier. Practicing with what you carry, particularly the recoil, is essential I think to defense confidence. Particularly if the person is not a "gun" person who shoots regularly anyway.

The only argument for it, other than new shooters, is the simple economics of our day and age, to-wit: ammo prices and availability and the fact that hard, tight times are upon many families for many reasons.

I guess it's better to practice with a .22 than not at all, if one can't afford consistent big bore practice fire.

But if at all possible, do as much practicing with the gun(s) you carry as you can, under a variety of circumstances.

I wish I had an endless supply of centerfire pistol ammo. I could really have some fun!

I'm sure you're familiar with Gaylord and his love of revolvers, and his book is an interesting read. Lots of good gun pictures and some interesting theories on defensive shooting and drawing postures from 50 years ago.

Much of it still valid today, imho.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous bigfatdave said...

Xavier: First, thanks for keeping the blog up, seriously.

Regarding the article posted, and the commentary both here and there - rimfire is great practice, and it gets better the closer your rimfire mimics your EDC pistol.

I have both a "mimic" .22 and a number of target pistols in rimfire, I may or may not get any particular pistol dirty on a given range trip, but a .22 gets shot no matter what, and my EDC is second priority, followed by any new toys and whatever needs some time out of the safe. My biggest take-away from this debate is always "you can afford to shoot rimfire, every time, no matter what".

I'll be doing some serious thinking regarding shooting more often, I pass my range with no hard scheduling fairly frequently, maybe I should make the detour and run a few mags through whenever I am in the neighborhood.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Blackwing1 said...


Thanks for the suggestion...I'll pick up a .45 boresnake, and run it through after shooting.


You're correct...with ammo prices where they are, I usually just load 3 new magazines (for 1 in the gun, two on the side) and then shoot up my carry ammo magazines. Then I shoot what's left in the box through the carried magazines. It rotates both the ammo and magazines.

Then we start in on the .22 (as you said) as a complement to, not replacement for, shooting the high-buck stuff.

Back in ought-one I bought a couple of cases of S&B 230 gr ball .45 ammo for just over $7 a box of 50. It's selling for around $20 now. With 20-20 hindsight I'd have cashed in my 401(k) and converted it to ammo, then sold it all last fall and retired.

Say, has anybody noticed that Winchester white-box .45 ball is now made in the Czech Republic, and is internally packaged EXACTLY like the S&B stuff? I just bought a box at Cabela's and did the "sniff the ammo" thing and was surprised to find it looking like that, but with US-made headstamps on the brass. Funny.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous ScottJ said...

First of all welcome back. I don't check in every day (or even every week) so the recent unpleasantness was a surprise when I scrolled down.

Glad you're sticking with it.

As the known gunny in my circle of influence I have taken to referring anyone looking to make their first purchase to the write up of your first range trip with Freda.

I'll echo your thoughts on practice often. I was a much better shot when I ran at least a box of ammo a week through something (and typically ended the session with once capacity string of my carry gun with carry ammo.

I let the rest of my life intrude on that and for awhile only got to the range perhaps once a year.

Fortunately I have figured out how to safely build a 7 (expandable to 25 with a little earthwork) yard range in my back yard. God I love living in the country.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Ric in RIchmond said...

A while back I decided to pare down to minimum calibers and systems. All my autos are DA/SA and one of them has a 22 conversion so familiarity is cheap to quire. My revolver is DA as well.

I love the fact that with my 22 slide conversion I have a training gun a starter gun and a plinking gun all in one.

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Andy said...

HE'S BACK HE'S BACK HE'S BACK! I really thought the blog was a goner. It's thanks to earlier posts on this blog regarding .22 pistols that I made the magnificent decision to purchase my S&W K-22 (model 17) and get in a lot more practice than I otherwise could with my EDC S&W model 60. You've changed my practice habits and helped my proficiency, and, godammit and god forbid, if I ever have to use my firearm to save a life I will thank YOU for backing me up in the encounter, internet friend.
So glad you're back. There are 25.21 billion websites in the world, and this is one of the very best of them. Those that don't like it still have 25.21 billion other sites they can click through before returning.
I dedicate my next range trip to you, X, and just seeing you still posting about .22 pistols has inspired me to get out ASAP.

10:44 AM  
Blogger dude said...


Thanks for keeping at it.

All I can say is that my pawn guy is your new greatest fan. I just took a MKII off his hands for a fair price. I love it, cheap ammo, accurate, little perceived recoil (and the corresponding fatigue). Any ideas on a cheap source for bulk (10+) mags?

1:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Waiting for your blog on the Trijicon B.S......

8:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget presentation and dry fire. Use snap caps if you like. They even make lasers that fit in the barrel and flash where the round would have hit. And as was said...a little every day. Plus the added benefit of firing from different positions and making sure your holster allows you access to your gat.

6:50 PM  
Blogger geordie said...

FWIW I'd agree with all that, I taught my 70 year old mother with a Ruger 22. My weapon of last resort is a Glock 20 and that's what I put volume through. Not everyone's taste, but works very well for me.

I'm glad you decided to stick around. I regard you as one of the most thoughtful experts, even if I don't agree with everything you say or all of your politics. You would have been a real loss. You inspire me to try a classic 1911 to go with my Kimber, but I won't be dumping the tupperware gun. Bye from Alameda.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My wife and I shoot our Ruger MkIII 22/45 a great deal. I have just had the habit of cleaning all my weapons after each session for years.

7:32 AM  

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